Watching Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix today I remembered a conversation between me and a colleague. It transpired a few months ago. The discussion (or rather, argument) began when this colleague of mine came over to my desk for a little small talk. I was skimming through an article about the movie. It included a few pictures of the very beautiful Evanna Lynch, who plays Luna Lovegood in the movies, at a red carpet event.
Immediately, he said, “Look at how she’s become”. This stunned me for a few seconds because I didn’t understand what he meant by “become”. What had she become? He was referring to the fact that she had become stylish, you know, make-up and short dresses i.e. sexy. But he didn’t mean it in a good way. He meant that she had shed her innocent, good girl image and become a bad girl. I countered that she’s a strong girl who beat the odds (Anorexia) and became a role model to other girls. But he wouldn’t hear of it.
This, sadly, was not the first time that I got to hear the bad-character-girl theory. Another conversation involved a broken engagement because the groom found out that the bride-to-be was a woman with loose morals. In other words, she had had a boyfriend. Her “character” was flawed and the alliance was cancelled. Another, where the woman’s husband checked her phone records and questioned her as to why her male friend wished her happy birthday. There ended an innocent friendship.
This is how most, if not all, men think. And these aren’t illiterate or rural men living in the Dark Ages. They’re educated men. The “bad-character” women are categorized based on:
- The kind of clothes they wear.
- Number of male friends, colleagues or associates they have [The optimum number is 0 or lesser].
- The amount of make-up they have on.
- How much they talk [If they have a mind of their own or are strong-willed, beware].
- The things they talk about [Anything rated PG and above will put them in this category].
A woman’s place in this world is to conform to the standards set by society. Not to become whatever she wants. She should be able to cook, clean, wash, dry, fold, shop [for groceries] and basically be a housewife. Her life should be dedicated to serving her godly husband, her in-laws and her children and should be confined to the four walls of her house. Anything other than this is a no-no. Many may disagree because the roles of women have changed. Roles have but mindsets haven’t. There are women who are given permission to work by their in-laws. There are women whose husbands escort them to every place they go afraid that she may stray from the “code of marriage” and glance at another man. There are guys who forbid their girlfriends to stop fraternizing with their male friends. This arrangement is because such men believe any liaison between a woman and a man is for or will lead to future sexual association.
Men don’t have to deal with all this. Because most men consider themselves saints. Society is on their side. Whatever they do is right. If they have an affair, it’s because the wife is a nag. If they sext someone, it’s harmless flirting. If they make degrading jokes, it’s just for fun. If they harass their wives, it’s because she’s “making him hurt her”. If he rapes a woman, it’s because she was wearing jeans. On the other hand, if a woman has an affair, she’s of bad character. If she makes degrading jokes, she’s a bitch. If she’s raped, it’s because she was wearing jeans.
If a woman is not married by age 26, the family begins to panic. If the age crosses 30, she done for. Even if she has found a cure for cancer, her achievement is nullified if she’s unmarried or childless by age 30. Believe me. I’m 26 and I’ve heard a lot of crap about why I should be married now or [add bullshit reason here]. Apparently, whatever I do is meaningless without a man by my side.
My colleague is one of the many men who can only see the societal rules laid in front of their narrow-mindedness. They hide their narrow-mindedness under the guise of conservatism. Such men do not acknowledge that a woman is a separate being with a mind of her own, who has a life that she plans and who wants to make her own place in this world just like them.
Let her talk, let her sing, let her wear whatever she wants. It’s her choice. Keep an open mind about it. Rather than judge a woman for whatever she is, stop judging her at all.
“A woman whose smile is open and whose expression is glad has a kind of beauty no matter what she wears.”